By Sarah Simpson and Tegan Miller-McCormack

While climate change and sustainability are important across all parts of society, the UK government and European Commission (EC) are tackling these social issues head on, with a particular focus on the fashion and retail industries.

As discussed in our April advisory, there is a focused crackdown on “greenwashing” in the fashion industry. Legislators have their sights on deceptive and misleading claims by fashion brands about the implementation of environmentally friendly manufacturing lines, better working environments and pay for workers, and the use of sustainably sourced materials.

Alongside its Directive on Green Claims, the EC has also laid out a new proposal, the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), focused on how businesses can create more environmentally sustainable and circular products through a framework that sets ecodesign requirements for specific product groups to significantly improve their circularity, energy performance and other environmental sustainability aspects.

The European Fashion Alliance (EFA) formed in 2022 to bridge the gap between the European Fashion industry and policy makers. The EFA, composed of 25 European fashion councils and other entities, is determined to advocate for change within the fashion industry, focusing on a sustainable future that does not compromise on creativity and artistic workmanship. The alliance held its first political roundtable on June 7 in Brussels, where it also announced a new European, “Status of European Fashion” survey. The EFA will share the results at its conference in Brussels at the end of 2023.

“[W]e must warn against the adoption of requirements that would affect the industry’s craftsmanship, artistic tradition, and competitiveness, as well as the whole European fashion manufacturing ecosystem, which is largely dependent on designers and high-end brands. We call for the implementation of feasible, yet ambitious enough ecodesign requirements established in cooperation with representatives of the industry, all along the value chain,” said the EFA in the paper it presented to the EC Particularly, the EFA wants to highlight potentially unintentional consequences for some of the proposed regulations, due to the fact that the ESPR applies to all industries, including textiles.

One of the proposals under the ESPR is a new “Digital Product Passport” to provide a product’s green statistics. The EC has stated that passports will help consumers and businesses make informed choices when purchasing products, and improve transparency about products’ lifecycle impacts on the environment. Overall, the aim is to combat “greenwashing” in the fashion and retail sectors by preventing brands from falsely claiming to have reached certain “green targets.”

With new regulations on the horizon, green is clearly the new black. The movement for environmentally friendly fashion is no passing seasonal trend. Look for updates as we continue to watch this space!

To read The Katten Kattwalk | Issue 25, please click here.